Recoloring Artwork in Illustrator

I began my business the moment I downloaded a free trial of Adobe Illustrator. The only experience I had with graphic design was limited to the few tricks I picked up using PicMonkey and Microsoft Paint. The most beautiful fact about Illustrator is a little knowledge will take you far. Using only the pen tool, you can draw just about anything with incredible detail. My point in saying this is, if you just started out - it's okay if you only have mastered a few of the tools. The features of Illustrator are so vast, I'm pretty sure the creators are still finding shortcuts and new ways to create with it.

One of my latest and most favorite Illustrator adventures is learning how to recolor my artwork with minimal effort. Three years ago I would tediously select all objects with the same color before I changed it. And then continue until all objects had been recolored. It could take me upwards of an hour just on one piece of art. 

It wasn't until the beginning of this year that I found the "recolor button" - yes, there is a recolor artwork button that I had been neglecting. It was a bittersweet moment when I found it.  Sweet in the fact that I would save many hours of work in the future, and bitter because I could remember those long nights of recoloring client's invitations and artwork.

It really is just with the push of a button that you can recolor your artwork, but I'm going to teach you how to recolor your artwork with the color palette of your choosing.



The first thing you will need to do is open up a file you would like to recolor. Here I have a piece of art I made for my good friend, Kris, from Yellow Rose Co.

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When you have opened up your file, go ahead and create a color palette at the very top. If you are struggling creating one, remember this tutorial here and you'll be good to go! You will want to choose colors that will easily translate into your artwork.  For instance, I probably would choose a black, red, purple,and gray for this piece of art. Why? When Illustrator recolors my artwork for me, I won't have enough light and dark tones of a similar color to make a rose. 

My artwork in primarily made up of yellows and greens, so I chose colors that would translate nicely. I picked a couple of shades of red/coral, a light  yellow, greens for the leaves, and purple as a nice stark contrast.

Select your color palette. There is a little button with lines and an arrow next to it on your swatch panel. Click the button to have the drop down menu appear.  If you can't find your swatch palette, click window>swatch and it will appear.

With your color palette highlighted, click new color group. You will be prompted to name your color group and then select okay.

Next, highlight your art board or the art would like to recolor.  I'm not concerned with my text, only my roses - so I dragged them off my art board and highlighted the roses. You will then go to edit>edit colors> recolor artwork. I told you there was an actual button for this! Reason 234823094 why I love working in Illustrator.

The recolor artwork box will pop up, to the right you will find your color palette. Go ahead and click your color palette.  Your work will automatically be transformed. Typically Illustrator will choose the color in your palette that most closely represents the color in the original piece of artwork. I wanted something quite different, so I chose to play around with the color settings, as you'll see below.

Illustrator will automatically use tones of the colors in your palette, you can change this like I did, by selecting one of the colors under "new" and clicking exact. The current colors are the colors that were in your original artwork, the new colors are the colors they've been changed into. So you can see My red became coral, my yellows became yellows and greens, etc. You can change the this by dragging and dropping the current colors. For example, I dragged and dropped my yellows to my dark purple (currently green) so that my roses would have purple in them.

Continue to do this until you have your desired look.

Looking for more Adobe Illustrator How-To's? I post new tutorials weekly and I would love to have you stop by!